Benedictine Military School Teacher Takes On Western

Gabrielle Eng

From the tight ship of Benedictine Military School to the free flowing halls of Western, Mrs. Tew (previously Ms. Bowie) talks about her big change. She switched jobs, made the big move from Richmond and got married all prior to arriving in Charlottesville. I decided to see what makes a private military academy so different from Western.


Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: This is my third year teaching high school.


Q: How many years did you work at the military academy?

A: Two.


Q: This is a big change, how are things different?

A: Military schools are formal and Benedictine was all male. There are drill sergeants, demerits, uniforms, bagpipes playing at any given point in the day, students making screeching monkey sounds trying to sound like barbarian hordes, and weekly Chapel. As a private school that has existed for more than a century, there are many traditions and customs the school has, such as a military Ball where the Cadets who are officers of rank, wear their more formal uniforms and parade with sabers and waltz with their ladies dressed in white ball gowns. The students were on the whole, I have to say, very good pranksters. Such as at a formal gathering, blasting a Metallica song instead of the National Anthem everyone was expecting, or one of my own classes hiding a recording in the ceiling tiles that announced to me in the middle of my lecture “Miss Bowie, You are the Messiah!!”


Q: Are there any similarities?

A: Military schools celebrate and encourage academic rigor and excellence, and those two things were what drew me to Western Albemarle.


Q: Are the curriculums different?

A: The English curriculum was very similar at Benedictine. I got to talk about Greeks and Romans slaying each other on the battlefield quite a lot there, and was overjoyed to learn I can do the same at Western!


Q: It’s only been a couple weeks, but how do you like it here?

A: I am very impressed with the students and curriculum at Western Albemarle and have found it to be a very welcoming place! I am very excited to be here.


Q: Tell me about your best memory at Benedictine.

A: One of my favorite traditions at Benedictine is on Halloween, during the Cadets’ military formation the Senior Cadets are allowed to plan and execute an attack upon the underclassmen. Last year, as the sun was rising over the misty fields of Goochland County, a horde of care bears, hobbits, dairy cows, and other costumed Cadets came swarming out of the woods with a rebel yell that would have stopped William Tecumseh Sherman. The underclassmen then fled in terror to the stronghold of the school and several teachers were almost lost in the ensuing stampede. Benedictine’s mission is to form Christian men of conscience, discipline and achievement and there is a strong sense of camaraderie among the Cadets and dedication to the formation of character. There are no cliques, there is just the Corps of Cadets and loyalty to the Corps! All of Benedictine’s unique traditions developed over a century, truly make the school a brotherhood and it is a beautiful thing to see.